Coventry’s refugee ambassadors come together with the Jo Cox Foundation to celebrate Refugee Week 2022 – Coventry City Council

Coventry’s very own Muslim Hikers, Positive Youth Foundation, and Coventry City Council, have teamed up with the Jo Cox Foundation to celebrate Refugee Week 2022.

Founded in 1988, Refugee Week is an annual, UK-wide festival that celebrates the contributions, resilience, and bravery of those seeking sanctuary.

The week-long celebrations bring together communities from all corners of society, enabling people to connect beyond labels, and help to develop an understanding of why people are displaced and the challenges they face when seeking safety.

As a city, Coventry has, for many years, stood shoulder to shoulder with those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, uniting with partner organisations from across the city to resettle over 1000 people who hail from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and more recently, Ukraine, in the process.

A long-standing advocate for refugees, former MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, personified unity and compassion for those forcibly displaced from their homes, standing proudly as she made her maiden speech to parliament, stating: “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”

6-years after her tragic death, her legacy lives on through the ‘Great Get Togethers’ that are taking place across the West Midlands.

Celebrating Refugee Week in style, Muslim Hikers, with support from Coventry City Council, specialist youth engagement organisation Positive Youth Foundation, and the Jo Cox Foundation, have organised a ‘Great Walk Together’ which takes place on the 25 June, to allow the local community to come together and reflect on the journey’s that refugees face – with many of those taking part former refugees themselves.

With over 75 people due to attend, the walk starts at the Coventry Muslim Resource Centre, before ending at the Canal Basin to the smell of freshly cooked, delicious food.

Praising the strength of new arrivals and highlighting the importance of Refugee Week, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor David Welsh, said:

“Refugee Week is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the plight of those forcibly displaced from their homes, and celebrate their incredible contributions not just to Coventry but to the UK”.

“We’ve been privileged not only to support new arrivals as they rebuild their lives in Coventry, but we’ve been first-hand witnesses to their incredible and self-less contributions to the city and its residents.

“We’ve seen new arrivals go onto to become employment coaches, mental health coaches and advocates, language teachers, students, and even the head of one of the UK’s biggest Refugee charities, the Scottish Refugee Council.

“It just goes to show that by treating new arrivals with dignity and respect, and by providing them with the support and tools they need to find their own feet in a new and unfamiliar environment, there is nothing they can’t achieve.

“I very much look forward to joining everyone on the walk and celebrating the contributions that new arrivals make to the UK and celebrating the legacy of Jo Cox”. 

Highlighting the importance of community cohesion and integration, Founder and Director of Muslim Hikers, Haroon Mota, said:

“Our aim with this Great Get Together, and with our regular Hikes, is to show to the world that there is strength in numbers, and no matter where you’re from or what you’ve been through, there will always be those in the community that will support you.

“To see the community come together to celebrate the contributions of refugees, make new friendships and open up that dialogue about the plight of refugees and why they’re forced to leave their homes is incredibly heart-warming and powerful.

“By creating that safe environment for new arrivals to express their feelings, not only do we help them to integrate and become an integral part of the community, but we help them to heal, and be able to live the rest of their lives in peace and tranquillity”. 

Su Moore, CEO of The Jo Cox Foundation, said:

“No two Great Get Togethers are the same – they range from plant swaps to mosque tours, concerts to coffee mornings – but they all bring Jo’s message of unity to life.

“They help people to realise what they have in common, whether that’s with a next-door neighbour or a refugee in another country. We’re looking forward to joining our partners in Coventry for the walk and creating a more welcoming and inclusive world for all”.

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